Our Board & Advisors
President & Board Director
President & Board Director
Byrnes Yamashita is the President of the Nisei Veterans Legacy and also serves as the Chair of the Education Committee. He is a retired Navy engineer with over 30 years of military engineering and planning experience in the Indo-Pacific Area.
His father Victor was a Nisei soldier during World War II, serving with the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team in Italy and France.
A charter member of the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd RCT, he has been actively involved with Japanese American organizations preserving and promulgating the Nisei soldiers’ legacy for over ten years.
In 2014/2015, he took an exhibit on the Nisei soldiers around the State of Hawaii. In 2017/2018, he curated an exhibit on Hawaii Nikkei (Japanese Americans) history and culture that toured Japan and the State of Hawaii as part of the celebration of initial Japanese immigration to Hawaii.
He chaired the memorial service to honor the Nisei soldiers for three years and supports Japanese media and researchers seeking to learn about the Nisei soldiers. He has made numerous presentations to students, civic organizations and visitors from Japan. He serves on the board of directors of the United Japanese Society of Hawaii
“I look forward to furthering the mission of the NVL to educate our younger generations on the Nisei soldiers’ story. We will focus on the post-war contributions of the Nisei veterans to shape modern Hawaii into a more democratic and egalitarian society making it an example for societies around the world.”
Micah Benavitz is a Board of Director of the Nisei Veteran Legacy. Currently a high school history teacher at Mililani High School, and President of the Wahiawa Community Business Association (WCBA). He earned his Bachelor's degree in History and Political Science, a Masters in Education at Chaminade University, and a Masters in World and European History at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
He had the opportunity to live in Italy for three years and visited various historical sites including areas associated with the Nisei soldiers. His grandfather was in the MIS, and his granduncle was in the 100th Battalion who was killed in action near Monte Cassino in January 1944. The past two years he has collaborated with the JCCH and NVL with incorporating curriculum into the classroom. He has a strong interest in helping to keep alive the legacy of the Nisei soldiers.
Lawrence “Larry” Enomoto is the Treasurer and a Board Director of the Nisei Veterans Legacy. Larry’s father, Gulstan N.T. Enomoto, was a member of the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Service (MIS). Larry is President of MIS Veterans — Hawaii. He also supports activities of the Veterans of Foreign War, Military Officers Association of America and the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association.
Larry had a 40-year career of military and civilian government service: air force for 22 years, foreign service for five years, and civil service for 13 years. This included various intelligence-related and other duties at airbases in Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Texas, Massachusetts, Alabama and Hawaii; attorney-advisor duties in the U.S. State Department Law of the Sea Office; political-military and consular-related duties at the U.S. Consulate General in Naha, Okinawa; U.S. representative duties to U.N. space-related organizations’ meetings in New York City, Vienna, Bangkok and New Delhi; and co-leader duties for a U.S.–Japan joint initiative to implement a Global Observation Information Network.
Larry earned four academic degrees: Juris Doctor from University of Hawaii School of Law at Manoa, Master of Laws from the University of Washington Law School in Seattle, Master of Public Administration from Auburn University at Montgomery, and Bachelor of Arts from Sophia University (Jochi Daigaku) International Division in Tokyo, Japan. Each degree was awarded during or between periods of his U.S. government service.
Lynn Heirakuji is the former President and a current Board Director of the Nisei
Veterans Legacy. Lynn’s father, Walter Heirakuji, was a member of the 442nd RCT.
Lynn is also the Government Affairs Advisor and Board Vice President for the
Maunalani Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and supports Nisei Veteran, Veteran,
Army, and Japan-Hawaii activities.
Lynn had a 30-year career with the Federal Government in Washington, D.C. She was sworn in as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Personnel Oversight, Manpower and Reserve Affairs, for the U.S. Army Secretariat. Prior to joining the Army team, Lynn was a member of the Senior Executive Service serving as the Deputy Director of the Office of Human Capital Management for the U.S. Department of Agriculture where she provided leadership for Department-level human capital programs. Lynn also served in senior staff and leadership positions at the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, and Commerce.
Lynn holds a Doctorate Degree from Howard University, a Master’s Degree from the
University of Denver, and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Hawaii.
After returning to Hawaii she worked for the Lieutenant Governor and the Governor as the Director of the Hawaii Fair Share Initiative. She later served as the Associate
Director for Administration for the University of Hawaii Cancer Center.
Steve Migdol grew up in the Kansas City, Missouri area and graduated from Central Missouri State University in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. After working as an ER nurse in Kansas City, he took a travel assignment at Straub Medical Center in Honolulu in 2006, where he met his late wife, Sherrie Okunami. Sherrie’s great-uncle Shinkyo Kuniyoshi was in the MIS and participated in the liberation of Okinawa. His interest in the Nisei soldier experience came primarily from caring for elderly vets in the ER.
He is a member of the Sons and Daughters of the 442nd and served as their Vice President for three years. He worked on numerous projects, including the soldier biography project and the Hamilton Library archiving project, and events such as the annual banquets and memorial services.
He is the first volunteer at Honouliuli National Monument and on the Board of Directors of Water Hands Hope, a nonprofit that provides prosthetic limbs, water filtration systems, and medical supplies and education in developing countries. He is heavily involved with Nurses Creating Aloha, which conducts various activities aimed at improving quality of life for local residents (such as school supply and food drives, domestic violence retreats, and more).
He is the emergency medicine educator for Hawai‘i Pacific Health, and recently earned his Master’s in Medical Anthropology from the University of North Texas.
“I appreciate NVL’s approach to perpetuating the legacy of the Nisei soldiers by engaging future generations and showing them the relevance of the soldiers’ sacrifices to current events. Beyond having young people memorize dates of battles and names of heroic soldiers, I think it is important to help them make the connection to present day struggles for freedom and equality. I would like to support these efforts in any way that I can.”
Caitlin Shishido is a Board Director of the Nisei Veterans Legacy. She has served on the NVL membership committee and has aided with NVL Instagram postings. Her involvement in nisei veteran organizations was inspired by her grandfather, Yukio Naguwa who was in the 442nd RCT, I Company and was originally from Hilo, Hawaii.
Caitlin is a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Honolulu. Caitlin is originally from Wailuku, Maui and graduated from H.P. Baldwin High School. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Puget Sound, a Master’s in Marine Affairs from the University of Washington, and a Master’s and Doctorate degree in Zoology with an emphasis in ecology, evolution, and conservation biology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She has done research all over the world from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama to McMurdo Station in Antarctica. Caitlin has also previously worked for Washington Sea Grant in Seattle.
In addition to being an NVL Board Director, Caitlin is a member of the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd and serves on the Alumni Council and as the Hawaii Regional Club Chair for the University of Puget Sound. In her free time, she enjoys watching her son grow up and spending time with friends and family. They also enjoy taking their 3-year old corgi, Cheddar to the beach to dig holes in the sand.
Joanne Tachibana is a Director of the Nisei Veterans Legacy. She retired from the Office of the City Clerk as Assistant Supervisor, Committee Services for the Honolulu City Council after 40 years of service. Her father-in-law Harry Tachibana was a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and her uncle Hiroaki Arita was in the 100th Infantry Battalion and was killed in Italy during World War II.
At an early age, she was influenced by Congresswoman Patsy Takemoto Mink to pursue world peace and equal rights for all. For thirty years, she has volunteered for the United Nations Association-Hawaii-Honolulu Chapter, providing a forum in our local community for the work of the United Nations. She has been a member of the SGI Hawaii (Lay Buddhist) organization for fifty years and has embraced its goal of Peace, Culture and Education for all in her volunteer work.
She is involved with many community organizations serving on the Boards for the Rotary Club of Honolulu, Pau Hana; Knights of Service; the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Hawaii Foundation. She volunteers for the Love Peace Harmony Hawaii at Hui Mai Ai Aina homeless community in Waimanalo, at the Princess Ruth Ke‘elikolani Middle School, and the Lanakila Senior Center. She has been a co-chair of the annual Nagasaki Peace Bell commemorations for the past 30 years to bring the message of a nuclear free world. She is a member of the Japanese Cultural Center and Japanese Women's Society Foundation.
Fun fact, she founded the Gentle Song II Kook Hawaii Korean drama club. (2006–2019)
She is originally from the Big Island of Hawaii and holds a masters degree in Education from the University of Hawaii Manoa with a focus on Peace Education. She has been involved as an NVL supporter for almost ten years
Dr. Wright entered military service in 1956, going from high school to Ft Jackson, SC for basic training. In 1957 he entered the US Military Academy at West Point, NY, graduating with a BS in Engineering in 1961, and was commissioned as a 2nd Lt in the USAF. He served in intelligence operations in various locations, and commanded a joint service intelligence team during the Vietnam War. He was awarded the Bronze Star and U.S. Army Unit Award for Valor for action during the Tet Offensive of 1968.
Returning from the war, he attended Texas A&M University and received a PhD in Computer Science with Operational Analysis. Subsequently he was engaged in space operations roles, retiring in 1981. Dr. Wright then served in management positions at the Boeing Commercial Airplane Company in Seattle, WA, retiring in 1995 as the Chief Computing Architect.
He then worked as a consultant to Microsoft and other companies in the computing technology, manufacturing, electrical power, transportation and oil and gas sectors. In 2000, he headed a start-up software company, which he sold in 2005 to became a full time consultant to the Department of Homeland Security, focused on counter nuclear terrorism. He retired from this service in 2015, and has since devoted his time to veteran organizations for Americans of Japanese ancestry, principally the Sons and Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Nisei Veterans Legacy of Hawaii. Dr. Wright is the son of 442nd RCT veteran, Col William P Wright.
The results of some of his work can be seen on the NVLChawaii.org website. He also gives talks and presentations on the background and history of the WWII Nisei contributions to America, with emphasis on the core values that make their legacy compelling.
Warren M. Yamamoto is a Board Director of the Nisei Veterans Legacy (NVL). He is the son of original 100th Infantry Battalion soldier Richard F. Yamamoto.
Warren graduated from Kaimuki High School where many of his classmates were also descendants of veterans from the four nisei units. He received his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and his Masters of Science in Civil Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He began his career as a consultant and then went to the City and County of Honolulu Department of Transportation Services from where he retired.
In the early 1990’s, Warren was asked to form a descendant’s unit of Club 100, the veterans’ organization for the 100th Infantry Battalion. He and his group of veteran’s descendants formed the Sons and Daughters of the 100th Infantry Battalion as the successor group to Club 100, with Warren serving as the Sons and Daughters’ initial President. The Club eventually changed from a Veterans Club tax status to a social club status and the Sons and daughters’ role changed to more education oriented. The Sons and Daughter renamed themselves the 100th Infantry Battalion Legacy Organization. Warren has been administering the Organization’s scholarship program for the last several years.
- Past President, Nisei Veterans Legacy
- Member, Sons & Daughters of the 442nd RCT (past President)
- Design Principal, Alakea Design Group
- President, Grove Farms, Inc.
- Former President, Hawaiian Telephone Co.
- Serves on several boards of directors
- Deputy Executive Director, Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies
- Retired Brigadier General, U.S Army with over 30 years of command and leadership experience
- Civil and Commercial Litigation lawyer
- Partner, Leu Okuda and Doi
- Member, State Land Use Commission
- Former television news anchor
- President, Hoakea Communications
Suzanne P. Vares-Lum
- President, East-West Center
- Retired Major General, U.S. Army — Mobilization Assistant to the Commander, USINDOPACOM